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Secret Agent Barbie: The Royal Jewels Mission Review
review
game: Secret Agent Barbie: The Royal Jewels Mission
three star
posted by: Jason Frank
publisher: Vivendi Universal
platform:
date posted: 09:10 AM Sun Nov 17th, 2002
last revision: 05:15 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005



Simply put, Secret Agent Barbie is a girls' game designed by guys. I thought it was interesting that out of a dozen game testers only one was female. The key folks in the marketing department, however, were women. The message is clear: We really don't need to design a game for girls; we just need to sell the game to girls. This isn't to say that I didn't like the game. As far as handheld fare goes, this is one of the better titles I've played in recent history. But I'm a guy, and I just don't know how Secret Agent Barbie: Royal Jewels Mission would stand up for its intended audience.

Globe trotting Barbie must catch a notorious globetrotting jewel thief. Secret Agent Barbie is surprisingly well executed. It's a basic run, jump and roll side-scroller with a few gadgets thrown in. The focus of the game is definitely stealth. You need to avoid detection at all costs. There's no way for you to confront enemies. You just have to run away. Luckily for Barbie, she can make herself invisible for short periods of time with her invisibility ring. You also get a grappling hook to help reach high places and a little robot dog for distracting guards. My favorite gadget of course is smoke screen compact. I love it when they're able to combine cutting edge technology with a girl's need to look smashing.

Barbie has to avoid being seen. It must be very difficult to look so stunning and yet have no one notice. I'll never fully understand the trials in the life of a young model, secret agent, nurse, flight attendant, doctor, Olympian, veterinarian, surfer babe. The game uses a detection meter rather than a health meter. The more times you are seen, the quicker your stealth factor decreases. It was a little annoying to be standing in front of a guard watching the meter run out. He doesn't actually do anything until he has watched you for a good while. And although I like the idea of a game that rewards you for avoiding confrontations rather than escalating them, I would have liked to have seen at least the option to handcuff the bad guys.

The gameplay is actually fairly varied. You have little mini games to unlock some doors which are kind of fun, if repetitive. Barbie also gets to ride a jet ski, horse and do some scuba diving. The graphics are pretty well thought out with lots of pretty pastels. I really liked the light colors on the GBA's traditionally murky screen. You can always see what was going on.

Secret Agent Barbie continues the trend of incredibly short games for the Game Boy Advance. Don't expect to be working overtime at this one. There are some bonuses to unlock which may give the perpetually bored a little something extra to do. Not only do you have secret gadgets galore at your disposal, but you can unlock some really great looking outfits so that you can right the wrongs of society in style.

So many secret agent games seem to revolve around saving the world. If it were James Bond, he'd be averting a nuclear holocaust. Why is it that Secret Agent Barbie is only entrusted with the recovery of some diamonds and rubies? Do we not have enough confidence in her abilities, or is it that female secret agents have a different set of values? There's a stereotype being perpetuated here that I'm a little uncomfortable with. Is Barbie's quest for gold and pearls little more than an elaborate shopping trip? I'm sure she'll return everything to its rightful owner, but not without at least trying on the tiara first.

If you've been frustrated at your daughter's inability to get excited about Metal Gear Solid, Barbie might be the primer that you've been looking for. It provides the perfect transition from a world of sugar, spice and niceties to the cold, hard existence of a lone soldier out to save the world.